Beside vs. Besides – What’s the Difference?

Marcus Froland

English is a language full of words that sound almost the same but carry entirely different meanings. It’s easy to mix them up, especially when they’re as close as beside and besides. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this. Many people scratch their heads trying to figure out which is which.

The trick lies not just in their spelling but in how they paint a picture with your sentences. One talks about location, while the other adds an extra flavor to your conversation. The difference might seem small at first glance, but it can change the entire direction of your message. So, how do you know when to use each? Well, that’s what we’re here for.

The words beside and besides are often mixed up, but they have different meanings. Beside is a preposition that means ‘next to’ or ‘at the side of’. For example, “She sat beside me in class.” This implies she was sitting right next to you. On the other hand, besides can also be a preposition but with the meaning of ‘in addition to’ or ‘apart from’. An example would be, “Besides English, I also speak Spanish.” This means English and Spanish are both languages you speak. Sometimes, besides is used as an adverb to mean ‘moreover’ or ‘furthermore’. Understanding this difference helps in using them correctly in sentences.

Understanding the Basics: Definitions of Beside and Besides

The words beside and besides may appear similar but have distinct meanings and applications in sentences. Developing a clear understanding of their definitions and usage can help prevent common errors and foster effective communication.

The Preposition ‘Beside’ and Its Usage

Define beside as a preposition that denotes the physical placement of an object next to another, indicating a side-by-side position. This positioning signifies proximity or companionship between two nouns. You can replace beside informally with next to without altering the grammatical structure or meaning of the sentence. Examples of beside in sentences include:

  • Kaia and Rhea sit beside each other.
  • The barn beside the farmer’s house was falling down.

Exploring ‘Besides’ as a Preposition and Adverb

Define besides as having dual functions as a preposition and an adverb. When used as a preposition, it means ‘in addition to’, ‘apart from’, or ‘except’. In contrast, besides as an adverb conveys the meaning of ‘furthermore’, ‘moreover’, or ‘else’. Typically employed in more conversational tones, besides offers a more casual alternative to traditional terms. Example sentences include:

  1. Do you have any M&Ms besides the green ones?
  2. Besides being an excellent writer, she’s also a talented artist.

Common Mistakes and Misuse in Sentences

Common errors with beside and besides typically involve using one term in place of the other. For instance, saying “His dog was standing besides him” instead of the correct “His dog was standing beside him” when expressing physical proximity. Another frequent error is sentence misuse involving idiomatic expressions, such as using ‘besides the point’ instead of the correct ‘beside the point’ when referring to irrelevancy in a discussion.

Incorrect: His dog was standing besides him.
Correct: His dog was standing beside him.

Incorrect: That argument is besides the point.
Correct: That argument is beside the point.

Physical Proximity and Contextual Clarity with ‘Beside’

Understanding the use of ‘beside’ is essential for accurately conveying physical location and proximity in written and spoken communication. As a preposition, ‘beside’ serves to clarify the position of one object relative to another while providing context and detail. In this section, we’ll explore the roles ‘beside’ plays in everyday language and how it lends itself to creating contextually rich sentences.

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Linking Objects in Space: ‘Beside’ as a Physical Reference

‘Beside’ functions as a spatial reference between two objects, restricting its use to scenarios describing tangible proximity or direct companionship. This preposition signals that one object is located directly next to the other. To ensure that you’re using ‘beside’ correctly, you can try substituting it with ‘next to’ and verifying if the sentence remains meaningful and coherent.

Take the example sentence “The supermarket is beside the post office.” By replacing ‘beside’ with ‘next to,’ the sentence reads “The supermarket is next to the post office.” Maintaining the same meaning, we can confirm that ‘beside’ is used appropriately in this context.

Pro Tip: When describing physical proximity, ‘beside’ can frequently be interchanged with ‘next to’ without altering the sentence’s meaning.

Examples of ‘Beside’ in Everyday Language

Utilizing ‘beside’ in everyday language effectively conveys spatial arrangements and side-by-side communications. Here are some sentence examples that demonstrate how ‘beside’ falls naturally into common spoken and written phrases, elaborating on physical proximity or closeness between objects and people:

  1. The alarm clock was placed beside the bed to ensure it could be reached easily.
  2. Her umbrella was left beside the front door.
  3. He stood beside the statue, admiring its craftsmanship.
  4. She ran beside her friend during the race, offering support and encouragement.

These examples not only help clarify the role of ‘beside’ in describing physical locations but also showcase its versatility in representing various contexts and relationships in daily communication.

Adding Information with ‘Besides’

Understanding the different ways ‘besides’ contributes to a discourse can improve your communication and help convey additional thoughts or ideas appropriately. In this section, we explore how ‘besides’ functions as a synonym for ‘moreover’ and ‘furthermore’ and how it can effectively expand on existing concepts within a conversation.

‘Besides’ as a Synonym for ‘Moreover’ and ‘Furthermore’

When used adverbially, ‘besides’ shares similar meanings with ‘moreover’ and ‘furthermore’. However, it carries a less formal tone, making it ideal for casual conversations or discussions. This informal tone allows ‘besides’ to act as a connector for adding extra information or perspectives within a discourse. Consider the following example:

“I don’t think the paint looks bad. Besides, nobody is going to see it anyway.”

In this instance, ‘besides’ offers an additional point of view to the initial statement, emphasizing that the paint’s appearance is of little concern since it will remain unseen by others.

How ‘Besides’ Expands on Thoughts and Ideas

By introducing supplementary points or elements to a conversation, ‘besides’ broadens the scope of thoughts and ideas. It can be used at the beginning or within a sentence to elaborate on a statement or present new information related to the subject. For example:

“We’re going to make it on time. Besides, there are fifteen minutes of previews before the movie starts.”

This use of ‘besides’ adds both reassurance and a supporting detail to the initial claim, highlighting how extra time is available because of the movie previews.

  1. Besides as an adverb for adding information: “I’m not sure about the project. Besides, I have no time for it right now.”
  2. Besides as a preposition for indicating exception: “Everyone is going to the party besides him.”
  3. Besides for emphasizing an opinion or experience: “Besides the minor issues, the overall process was smooth.”
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Besides serves as a valuable connector in discourse, allowing you to present additional ideas and points with ease. By using it effectively in your speech and writing, you can enhance your communication and present your thoughts more clearly.

The Interchangeability of ‘Beside’ and ‘Besides’ in Certain Contexts

Although ‘beside’ and ‘besides’ have distinctly different primary meanings, there are situations where either term can be used interchangeably without significantly altering the intended message. This interchangeable usage typically occurs when both words share the meaning of ‘in addition,’ functioning as either adverbs or prepositions.

In the example above, the meaning of the sentence remains clear and the overall message is consistent, regardless of whether ‘beside’ or ‘besides’ is used. Similarly, in the following example, both terms can be used interchangeably with little impact on the intended meaning:

As far as we know, nobody can open the safe besides/beside the bank manager.

To avoid confusion, it’s essential to consider the context of your writing or speech, and choose the appropriate term based on whether you want to convey physical proximity (‘beside’) or emphasize additional information (‘besides’).

Navigating the Idiomatic Expression: ‘Beside the Point’

Idioms are expressions that convey a specific meaning, often unique to the language they are used in. One such idiom is the phrase beside the point, which is commonly employed to highlight irrelevant discussions or contentions within a conversation. Mastering this idiomatic usage can significantly enhance your command of spoken and written English.

Generally, the phrase ‘beside the point’ is used in response to statements or explanations that lack pertinence to the topic at hand. This idiom allows the speaker or writer to convey that a particular argument or detail is, in fact, nonessential and does not contribute to the central discussion or debate.

“Your explanation of how cats are better than dogs is beside the point—we’re trying to decide which goldfish to buy.”

While this idiom is widely recognized and understood, people often mistakenly use besides the point in place of the correct phrase. It is crucial to remember that the appropriate expression is ‘beside the point’, and avoid any confusion that might arise from using the incorrect term.

  1. Beside the point: Correct idiomatic usage that signals irrelevance to the discussion
  2. Besides the point: Incorrect expression that should not be used

Through familiarizing yourself with this idiom, you will be better equipped to identify irrelevant discussions and steer the conversation toward more pertinent subjects. Moreover, a sound understanding of the expression ‘beside the point’ can elevate the overall quality and clarity of your dialogues and written communication.

Practical Tips to Remember the Difference

Understanding the distinction between ‘beside’ and ‘besides’ is key to expressing yourself accurately and effectively. To avoid confusion, consider the context of your writing or speech, and keep in mind that ‘beside’ denotes physical placement while ‘besides’ introduces additional information. The following strategies can help you recall and use these words correctly

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Strategies to Avoid Confusion in Writing and Speech

  1. Remember the key difference: ‘beside’ pertains to location, while ‘besides’ signifies additional information or emphasis.
  2. Consider the context in which the term is being used, which should make it clear whether location or extra information is the focus.
  3. Replace ‘beside’ with ‘next to’ and see if the sentence still makes sense. If so, ‘beside’ is the correct term to use.
  4. When in doubt, consult a language reference, such as a grammar book, to verify your choice.

Language Tools and Resources for Effective Communication

Utilizing online language tools like Grammarly and LanguageTool can play a significant role in avoiding language mistakes and ensuring proper use of ‘beside’ and ‘besides’. These resources analyze and correct common grammar errors, recommend synonyms, and enhance sentence clarity.

“Grammarly helps you eliminate writing errors and find the perfect words to express yourself.” – Grammarly website

Apart from these online tools, consulting physical grammar books and dictionaries can be an invaluable resource for improving communication skills. Some popular grammar books include The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus, and Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Tool or Resource Description How It Helps
Grammarly An online grammar checker and writing assistant Identifies errors, suggests synonyms, and enhances sentence structure
LanguageTool An open-source proofreading software Checks grammar, spelling, style, and highlights potential mistakes
Grammar Books and Dictionaries Physical reference books that discuss grammar, punctuation, and style Provides comprehensive grammar knowledge and helps improve overall communication skills

In summary, mastering the distinction between ‘beside’ and ‘besides’ helps convey your message clearly and accurately. Implement the strategies mentioned above and use available language tools and resources. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and confident communicator.

Real-life Examples: ‘Beside’ and ‘Besides’ in Various Sentences

Mastering the distinctions between ‘beside’ and ‘besides’ becomes easier when you observe their practical use in real-life sentences. By examining diverse examples, you will develop a clearer understanding of how to apply these terms effectively in your writing and speaking endeavours.

Consider these sentences where ‘beside’ is utilized to describe physical placement or proximity: “The fire extinguisher is placed beside the oven” and “LeBron James stood beside his teammates after the game”. Here, ‘beside’ highlights the position of one object or person in relation to another.

Now, let’s explore examples of how ‘besides’ can be used to add information: “Beside Spanish and French, English has some weird rules” and “Nobody but Amanda knew my secret”. In these cases, ‘besides’ emphasizes additional details or expands upon the initial statement. As you continue to encounter various contexts and sentences, your ability to apply ‘beside’ and ‘besides’ accurately will significantly improve.

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